History of science through Koyre's lenses
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 32 (2):243-263 (2001)
Alexandre Koyre was one of the most prominent historians of science of the twentieth century. The standard interpretation of Koyre is that he falls squarely within the internalist camp of historians of science-that he focuses on the history of the ideas themselves, eschewing cultural and sociological interpretations regarding the influence of ideologies and institutions on the development of science. When we read what Koyre has to say about his historical studies (and most of what others have said about them), we find him embracing and championing this Platonic view of his work. Ultimately I think this interpretation of Koyre's history of science is lopsided and in need of correction. I claim, rather, that a careful reading of Koyre's work suggests that a tension exists between internal and external methodological considerations. The external considerations stem from Koyre's commitment to the unity of human thought and the influence he admits that the 'transscientifiques' (philosophy, metaphysics, religion) have on the development of science. I suggest in conclusion then, that if we are to put a philosophical label on his work, rather than 'Platonist', as has been the custom, 'Hegelian' makes a better fit.
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